A 26-year-old single mother and graduate student who served in the Air Force for four years, told the Seattle Times Friday that she is outraged over policy implemented by a new principal at her 6-year-old daughter's public school regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. Outraged, that is, by the principal's announcement this week that all students will now be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day, something that the veteran did not expect at the dual-language immersion John Stanford International School. The Seattle Times writes on the frustration of Haley Sides:
"Sides was outraged when the school's new principal announced this week that students will be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each day. The practice, which has long been mandated by district policy and state law but has not traditionally been observed at John Stanford, will start Monday.
'It pains me to think that at a school that emphasizes thinking globally we would institute something that makes our children think that this country alone is where their allegiance lies,' said Sides, her voice oscillating between disappointment and anger. 'This has no educational value for young children. Absolutely none.'"
The John Stanford International School is an award-winning Kindergarden to fifth grade public elementary school in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood, that offers students dual-language immersion programs in Spanish and Japanese. Haley told the Times that she chose to settle in Wallingford so her daughter, who is half-Jamaican, could be part of an educational community promoting multiculturalism. The girl's father was a Jamaican-born Navy serviceman who died seven months after obtaining U.S. citizenship.
The pledge has been recited in certain classrooms by individual teachers at John Stanford, but not implement school-wide until new principal Jesely Alvarez sent a pair of letters to parents this past week. Although recognizing opposition from some teachers, Alvarez decided to "move forward" in"following state law." The Times notes that many parents are delighted with Alvarez's decision, and it is fully supported by district leadership.
Still, Sides is not the only parent unhappy with the decision, or the school discussing the issue without input from parents. Father of a Stanford first-grader, George Ptasinksi questions the policy, saying to the Times "'Separate but equal' was the law of the land for a while. Was it right to enforce?"
The pledge was reportedly a hot topic of conversation among parents in attendance at the school's weekly coffee hour. Officials note that the new policy asks, and does not make students participate in the pledge.
While some parents are strongly in support or opposition of the new policy, the Seattle PI notes that others are more apathetic to the whole situation:
"Alayna Setter, who has a first-grader at the school, is one of them. 'If people have a problem with it they have the right to opt out, so I don't know why parents should have an issue with it.'
'It's political correctness run amok,' she added. 'People are bending over backward to make things issues that really aren't issues.'"
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